Graduate students in Elon University’s Interactive Media program recently aided nonprofit organizations in Cuba, Costa Rica and Portugal in developing stronger online media presences and showcased the completed projects Jan. 24.

“The theoretical knowledge and application skills of the iMedia program enhance and go beyond what most students gain as undergraduates,” said David Copeland, professor of communications and director of the program.

The program, called “Winter Fly-in,” was mandatory for all iMedia students. Each team was provided with a writer, videographer, coder and other necessary elements which allowed them to complete the project.

This year’s projects included an organic farm in Cuba, cultural preservation in Costa Rica and environmental protection efforts in Portugal.

According to Copeland, faculty members who have a contact in a nonprofit organization chose the locations.

Dioni Wise, an iMedia student, managed a team of students who worked with an indigenous group threatened by economic, political and environmental fears that could cause the extinction of their culture in Terraba, Costa Rica.

Wise said the inspiration for the project came from the Costa Rican government’s choices to damage Terraba, land occupied by the Teribe culture for more than 500 years.

“A hydroelectric project commissioned by the Costa Rican government would permanently flood 10 percent of Terraba’s land,” Wise said. “The cultural association wanted us to build a site that demonstrated the value of their culture and land in hopes that the government would stop the project.”

Wise, along with six of her classmates, designed the website and built it for the Teribe Indigenous Cultural Association in 20 days. According to Wise, the site, has received more than 11,600 page views since it was launched Jan. 24.

“The website showcases the history, culture and land rights struggle of the Terraba indigenous community,” Wise said.

The team’s work was showcased in an NPR report broadcast throughout the country.

Wise said the main reason she applied to the iMedia program was for the opportunity to participate in a fly-in project.

“I love to travel and do community service,” she said. “The fly-in allowed me to do both.”

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